Sunday, January 30, 2011

Upward and Onward

I watched yesterday as a hot air balloon floated above our house on a sunny yet frigid January day. Two men leaned over the basket taking in the view from the skies, their perspective far different than mine was from the ground. Today is my birthday and my perspective as the years add up is also far different than it was when I stood at the starting line as an adult.

One of my favourite patients at the moment is a frail, old man near ninety who has been robbed of speech fluency by a stroke. He struggles to form each thought and sentence and I must stop, sit and listen carefully to each word he manages to say. He is very appreciative and thanked me one day for my patience with him. I told him it was not hard because I am not all that far behind him and would want to be treated the same way if I had a disability.

"Yes", he agreed. "Inside I feel like I am still in my fifties. Those were good years when my family was grown, my career was at its peak and my health was good."

I have learned that I don't need "things" to be happy and it is not gifts or an expensive dinner that make a birthday special.

My husband came home with a bouquet of flowers, a card and fresh, out of season cherries for me.

At the stroke of midnight I received birthday greetings from Mom and Dad and Ginger, part of an ongoing avalanche of special greetings from special friends.

My daughter emerged to give me a big hug and didn't make a comment about my age.

The sun shone briefly through clouds for me at dawn as I put seed and suet out for the birds illuminating the snow covered trees and bunny tracks below.

I got a Kindle for my birthday and the first book I downloaded from Amazon was a newly released title by Ann Voskamp, a blogger, farmer's wife and mother of six children from south-western Ontario. She endeavoured to write down one thousand blessings over the year and found that the daily exercise of expressing gratitude for small things changed her profoundly. One Thousand Gifts is a beautiful and inspiring read and the simple concept is something I would like to embrace.

Dad, my brother Philip, me, Aunt Lois

...But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind 
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  
I press toward the goal for the prize of the
upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 3: 13,14


  1. Happy Birthday, Ruth. This blog post is a gift to those who read it. Thank you for sharing your positive attitude towards aging. It's a pleasure to know you!

  2. Happy, happy birthday, Ruth! I know a bit of the feeling of your patient. Working with young adults, I always am surprised that they see me as old (relative, of course). Inside my head, I see myself as being their age. Looking in the mirror can be a bit of a shock. :) On the other hand, the years do bring inner gifts we'd not otherwise have.

    Enjoy the special blessings which this day brings.

  4. Congratulations. You look very young in that picture. I thought you were a little older than that.

  5. I used to go to a bible club in my teens with a family of Voskamps. I wonder if it's the same person. I believe she had 6 children. (they were older then me by a few years). I will have to search that out.


  6. Have a wonderful birthday...I love the photo of the snow laden tree..beautiful. Wishing you a fulfilling year ahead!

  7. Mary- Thanks for your nice comment... you are just a little behind me :-)

    Ginger- Many of my coworkers are the age of my children and I don't feel like their mother. I do not feel my age inside.

    Ruth- Your good wishes are appreciated

    AC- You sure know the right things to say to the ladies. I am 56 today and whether I look that age or not is a very subjective thing. The photo was taken in Oct 2010 and is the most recent photo I have. My brother just turned 50 and doesn't look that age IMO.

    Cheryl- Ann Voscamp has young children but she may well have married into the family you know. She is from that area. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

    Susan- Thank you. A little sunlight makes the snow look so much better.

  8. It will be so cold up the baloon.

    Happy Birthday. I hope you had a great day.

  9. Happy birthday. Beautiful post. I love your thoughts and perspective.

  10. Happy Birthday Ruth, it's never to late to send good wishes for a wonderful year ahead. Your comments about not needing things" to make you happy was right on. I am also celebrating a birthday this week and my happiness is in knowing I share my life with a wonderful partner, best friend, and lover...priceless gifts.

  11. Glad it was a wonderful day my friend. Enjoy that Kindle!

  12. Happiest of birthdays, Ruth!

  13. Happy Birthday Ruth! Things do not last, as you expressed. It's love and family that matter most. That dear old man will remember your kindness.

    I hope you enjoy your kindle. I am thinking of getting one, but I like the feel of a real solid book in my hands. We'll see.
    One thousand blessings sounds like a wonderful read. I'll check it out.

  14. Oops, I meant one thousand gifts! Love the cover.

  15. Happy Birthday Ruth! How true it all is. In a world that seems to clog itself up with "stuff" it is nice to find someone who knows there is more to life than the things we accumulate! As I grow older it seems the stuff in my life weighs me down and I just want to be free! You are well on your way to getting there!

  16. I just checked out that book ... the video was excellent and I read the first chapter ... I think it is a book worth ordering. I love her style.

    Glad you had a great birthday and that you received such a wonderful present! I'm sure you will get LOTS of enjoyment from it.

    Life's twists and turns ... are SO interesting ... and take us where we don't expect to go!

    An interesting post ... as always.

  17. Thanks to all for the birthday wishes and comments!

  18. Lovely post and belated birthday wishes.


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